Monday, June 10, 2013
Talk nerdy to me: Dallas burlesque community combines sexy and smart
Because there's sultry power in the intellect.
Members of Dallas burlesque coalition Naked Girls Reading know that sometimes the sexiest thing about sex is not having it. Consider it poetic suggestion.
They're part of an underground coalition of cabaret and "nerdlesque" performers in Dallas who aim to prove that sexy is smart through performances that show off their bodies while they challenge the audience's mind.
The ongoing series Naked Girls Reading is produced by DFW burlesque royalty Black Mariah and features, yes, naked women reading, as well as cracking jokes, laughing, and being generally charming. NGR's upcoming June 14 performance has been assigned a humdinger of academic acrobatics: Banned Books. The theme was chosen so cleverly to celebrate the recent opening of the George W. Bush Library.
"[T]here is a sultry power in the intellect of a woman," said Black Mariah. "Reading words that have shaped our society and history in the nude is the most curious premise for a stage show."
Curious, indeed. Traditional burlesque stems from a storied history itself, but Naked Girls Reading Dallas -- our local chapter of a national movement -- aims to create an "alternative intellectual culture."
"Every one of the ladies in Naked Girls Reading is well educated and well read," said Black Mariah -- an important note since, at recent events, members of the troupe read selections from writers like Mary Gateskill and Neil Gaiman. "NGR is part reading, part acting, part comedy sketch."
Burlesque performer Molly Macabre produces A Plumb Askew Revue, which she said reaches a target audience that formerly might've used comic conventions to feel sexy in costume. The racy revue offers an artistic outlet "without the fear of society looking down on them or making fun of them," said Macabre.
Differing from Naked Girls Reading, Macabre's ongoing production, Nerdlesque, is more like a traditional burlesque performance with emphasis on the strip tease rather than the conversation or comedy. But, Nerdlesque celebrates more diverse predilections. For instance, in April, she produced Alice: Madness Returns, which featured characters from an Alice in Wonderland video game. Geek double whammy!
"A nerdlesque show would be like any other burlesque show, except the acts you would see would be comic book, video game, fantasy, anime, and sci-fi in nature and typically involve a lot of props," Macabre said. "The costuming tends to be very specific with the goal of matching the character they are portraying as closely as possible. The idea is to appeal to the nerd in everyone ... and nerds love detail."
Macabre, like Black Mariah, agree that one doesn't have to identify as a "nerd" in order to enjoy the performance. In fact, Macabre suggested that the storytelling -- bringing every audience member up to speed and into the game -- is what sets Nerdlesque apart from more traditional burlesque performances.
A similar concept is Clever Girl Cabaret, which is not coincidentally co-produced by Black Mariah, along with established DFW performer Angi B. Lovely. Clever Girl debuted in March 2013 and features sci-fi and anime-themed burlesque performances that explore iconic cartoon vixens and femme fatales.
"Where do you stick a stripping hip-hop Tron themed routine in a show with beautiful classic glove and gown burlesque routines?" asked Black Mariah. "One isn't better than the other, but aesthetically the concepts don't work well within the same show. Angi and I perform all different styles of burlesque, from classic to neo-burlesque in addition to our nerdy stripteases, and in that respect we are both true artists, simply exploring our creativity and inspiration where we can."
Have we piqued your intellectual stimulation desires? Check out these upcoming performances: